Gbenga Daniel, Senator representing Ogun East Senatorial District, on Monday, in Lagos, challenged the country’s leaders and citizens to patronise made-in-Nigeria goods for mass job creation and economic growth.
Mr Daniel made the call at the 2023 mechanical engineering distinguished lecture organised by the Nigerian Institution of Mechanical Engineers (NIMechE).
Speaking on the theme, “Engineering: Panacea for Development and Massive Employment Generation in Nigeria,” said engineering was the bedrock of development, hence local engineers must be given opportunities to curb capital flight.
He said local engineers must be given the opportunity to handle major projects instead of always importing expatriates and depriving homegrown experts the opportunity to grow their capacity.
The former governor, who was the guest lecturer, said if urgent measures were not taken, the underdevelopment of the country, including bad roads, would continue for the next 2,000 years.
Mr Daniel said local engineers were being robbed of the opportunity to grow their capacity because citizens had developed an appetite for foreign goods, thereby discouraging manufacturing.
He said raw materials, such as hide and skin sourced from Kano and other states, were processed abroad, with the finished products imported back to the country for Nigerians to buy at exorbitant prices.
“We are all guilty. We have unlimited capacity that you can hardly imagine. We tend to underestimate our capacity. We have capacity, in all areas, there is capacity.
“Except we patronise our own products, we are just wasting time. For our country to grow, we must patronise local products,” he said.
He said there were several missed opportunities in the automobile industry and several other sectors, which must be addressed.
He said if there had been consistency in maintaining the growth the automobile industry recorded in the past, by now, Nigeria would have been able to service 90 per cent of its local needs.
He urged governments at all levels to embark on massive infrastructure drive, adding that infrastructure delivery would create several jobs in addition to platforms for economic progress.
The lawmaker who was among the awardees at the event called for collaboration between the government, academia, industry and other stakeholders towards reversing the trend for economic growth.
“What is missing in Nigeria is the will to act,” he said.
President, Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Tasiu Gidari-Wudil, represented by Agoro Ademola, a fellow of the society, called for continuous capacity building for local engineers.
“On our part as a Society, we have commenced the automation of the NSE Secretariat and Operations for ease of doing business and transparency with the view to bringing forth the principles and applications of Smart Office in Nigeria.
“This is to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship, research and development for job creation,” he said.
National chairman, NIMechE, Olufunmilade Akingbagbohu, in her welcome address, said the association was partnering with various organisations to tackle unemployment.
“To fully realise the potential of engineering for development, collaboration between the government, academia and industries is imperative.
“Policies that support research and development, coupled with strategic investments in infrastructure projects, will create an ecosystem conducive to innovation and economic growth.
“In conclusion, engineering stands as a panacea for development and massive employment generation in Nigeria. Embracing this discipline with enthusiasm and foresight will undoubtedly pave the way for a brighter, more prosperous future for our nation,” she said.
The special guest of honour, Senator Patrick Ndubueze, who received an award, commended the efforts of NIMechE towards addressing unemployment.